Friday, January 23, 2009

One Sad Tale Among Many

Tonight our friend M. came to visit us. Paul last saw him maybe six years ago, when he brought his fiancé to the hangar. M. had been married before. His first wife had died, leaving him with an infant daughter. To add to the tragedy, her family kidnapped the baby, and our friend had to go through a fair bit to get her back. Then he discovered that she had HIV. He wanted to remarry so that he would have someone to care for the child while he worked. But when Paul met the woman of his choice, he counseled M. against the marriage. It didn’t seem to Paul that she was interested in raising another woman’s baby, let alone one with HIV. M. didn’t listen, married the woman, and told us tonight that Paul had been right. His wife doesn’t want anything to do with his daughter, so the girl (now 10) lives with some people from M’s church. Recently he decided that it was time to have her meds reevaluated, so he went to an HIV clinic to have her tested. But when he went to pick up the results, they demanded about $200 for them. (They should have been free.) M. is basically a subsistence farmer who has nowhere near that kind of money. Implicit in his telling us this was a request for help, but Paul and I don’t knowingly participate in corruption. We sat with him for quite awhile, listening to further tales of financial burdens. Finally Paul said, “You need to go bother those people at the clinic.” M. seemed puzzled. “You need to go back, over and over. Tell them that you don’t have that kind of money, that she is just a child, that they have the results and they gain nothing by not giving them to you. Just keep going until they give them to you.” Paul is very wise when it comes to helping Cameroonians. We prayed for M. before he left. We would like to give him some money to help with his farming needs, but we suspect that he would take it straight to the clinic.

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